Thanks to Kitty and Tinsunny for the Ko-fis~
Since they were in the middle of a match earlier, there wasn’t any room to think about other things. Only now did Xiao Bai realize—Jian Rong was using his ge’s thermos this entire time during the competition?!
Actually, it was quite common for those of the same gender to share drinks. Xiao Bai couldn’t really care less about that, as he himself frequently helped Pine finish off his milk tea, coffee, milk, and so on and so forth.
But his ge was different.
Back when they were still little stars scattered throughout a certain area of Shanghai’s rented apartments, which were even worse off than a school dorm, they all used the same stainless steel cups. One time, Kan accidentally drank from Lu Boyuan’s cup. Though his ge hadn’t said anything, he hadn’t touched that cup again.
To call it mysophobia was a bit excessive. He just simply wasn’t fond of his personal belongings being used by other people.
Upon discovering that the person next to him had gone mute, Lu Boyuan asked, “Not going to continue?”
Xiao Bai said, “…I’m done.”
After they returned to the break room, Ding-ge greeted them each with a big hug.
“Incredible.” Ding-ge raised the phone in his hand. “I won’t say anything else, I’ve already made a reservation at a restaurant. Although it isn’t the finals yet, these are special circumstances, and everyone performed extremely well, so we have to celebrate that somehow… once the MVP interview is done, we’ll head straight over. No need to practice this evening, have a good night’s rest.”
They were all too excited after winning the match, so the couch was completely empty. Instead, everyone stood and gathered around the doorway.
Lu Boyuan was worried that Jian Rong would be thirsty if he finished the coffee, so he handed the thermos back to him. “I didn’t add much sugar, is it too bitter.”
As Jian Rong took back the bottle, their fingers bumped against each other.
He said lowly, “It’s not, it tastes good.”
There were people surrounding them on all sides, giving them their congratulations and compliments.
After winning the semifinals, and then sharing an indirect kiss with Lu Boyuan in front of the camera, Jian Rong’s heart was beating as fast as it had during the match.
Lu Boyuan was telling Moon about a few mistakes he had made while ganking the top lane in the third game.
When Lu Boyuan spoke, his Adam’s apple would occasionally bob up and down. Jian Rong glanced at it a few times before he twisted open the thermos lid and finished the rest of the coffee in one gulp.
Soon, a staff member came to fetch this match’s MVP for the solo interview.
In fact, they had all performed quite well during this semifinals match, and a brilliant outplay could be cut out for almost each member. Even Moon, who stepped up to the plate at the last minute, hadn’t dragged the team down.
However, if they had to pick one person who played the best, even a random Bronze player would be able to definitively give the correct answer.
Two minutes later, Jian Rong appeared on the interview set.
The host couldn’t help but shoot a few looks downward when he realized that Jian Rong had arrived while grasping something in his hands.
Jian Rong: “…”
He forgot to put down the thermos beforehand.
Fortunately, the host remained professional, and he wasn’t as gossipy as the previous troublemaker host. As was the standard, he asked several questions concerning the match.
“Now that you just got the first penta kill of your professional career, do you feel extremely excited?”
There wasn’t the slightest trace of excitement in his voice.
The host maintained his smile. “…why did you want to play Cassiopeia this time? As far as I can remember, it seems like you haven’t really played this champion too often. Could it be a secret weapon that you’ve kept hidden until now?”
“No.” Jian Rong said indifferently, “Cassiopeia relies on her teammates in the early game, and if you can’t get an advantage, there’s no way to play her. My account’s luck is bad and I don’t run into many good players in ranked. Also in matches, I’ve been playing the meta champions this entire time, which is why I haven’t really played her.”
“Then is there anything you want to say to Fighting Tiger?”
Jian Rong glanced behind him before he said, “They’ve probably already returned to their base by now, right? If I say it, can they hear me?”
The host held back his laughter and asked his last question. “Since Road didn’t play during this semifinals, were you under more pressure than you ever were in the past? We all noticed that you were playing extremely carefully and cautiously these past few games. In the last round, you were also working hard to destroy the Nexus by yourself…”
Jian Rong replied with a question of his own. “Isn’t it normal to destroy the Nexus?”
The host: “…”
If this were anyone else, it would be normal, but do you not have any clue what kind of person you are.
“It’s true that I played very carefully today. It’s the result of our training that Coach drilled into us while holding a stick in the back.” Jian Rong paused briefly. “Though, today I did indeed really want to win.”
After the interview concluded and Jian Rong left the set, his teammates were already waiting by the back door. Lu Boyuan carried Jian Rong’s equipment bag over his left shoulder and was in the middle of replying to a message on his phone.
Jian Rong was about to make his way over when a series of footsteps suddenly sounded from behind him. Before he could react, someone hooked their arm around his shoulders.
“Xiao Rong, you played so beautifully today!”
Jian Rong whipped his head around. Only then did he recall that Shiliu was also present at the stadium tonight. Since they had practice and couldn’t leave the base, he had asked Ding-ge to help deliver the free tickets to Shiliu.
“When you picked Cassiopeia, the fans sitting near me were even saying ‘oh no, oh no,’ it was so funny…” Shiliu patted his shoulder in a brotherly fashion before he released him and smiled. “If I’m not remembering incorrectly, you used Cassiopeia to climb to rank one on the domestic server back then, right?”
“Mn.” Jian Rong headed towards his teammates. “You came by yourself?”
Shiliu followed him and shook his head. “No. Since you gave me two tickets, I brought a bro with me, but something came up last minute so he had to leave first.”
Jian Rong nodded and walked over to Lu Boyuan. He glanced at his hand first before he said, “Give me the equipment bag, I can carry it myself.”
Lu Boyuan stood there solidly without moving. He swept a look at Shiliu and asked, despite knowing the answer, “A friend?”
Shiliu was a long-time social butterfly, and he immediately extended his hand towards Lu Boyuan. “God Lu, we met at the finals last year, which I went to together with Xiao Rong… ah, I forgot that you can’t give any handshakes…”
“I remember now. It’s fine,” Lu Boyuan smiled faintly, “I can.”
Lu Boyuan’s hand was still wrapped in bandages, so they shook hands loosely.
Understanding dawned belatedly on Shiliu, and he asked, “Do you guys have a celebratory feast planned or something along those lines? If you do, I won’t go and butt in.”
“It’s not a celebratory feast.” Yuan Qian said, amused, “This is only the semifinals, what’s there to celebrate? We’re just going out to eat.”
“Okay, you guys go ahead.” Shiliu pumped his fist. “Good luck in the finals!”
Jian Rong turned his head and asked, “Then what will you do for dinner?”
Shiliu: “Don’t worry. Shanghai’s so big, I won’t starve.”
Jian Rong furrowed his brows, somewhat hesitant—Shiliu had looked after him quite a bit back when he first started streaming. Afterwards, when Shiliu visited Shanghai, Jian Rong was always the one who took him around. Now that they hadn’t seen each other in a few months, it didn’t feel right to just exchange a few words and then leave.
Lu Boyuan said, “Let’s all go eat together.”
Startled, Jian Rong looked at Lu Boyuan.
Shiliu hadn’t expected for Lu Boyuan to speak up and invite him either. “Ah? Won’t it be inconvenient…”
“There’s nothing inconvenient about it,” Ding-ge instantly said. “I reserved a private room, so there’s plenty of space. It’s not a problem to go together.”
In the first place, Shiliu was a very extroverted person. Since even the team’s manager had spoken, he definitely wouldn’t keep declining the offer.
The reservation Ding-ge made was at a famous restaurant, and they could see the river scenery from inside the private room.
“You all are allowed two small cups of alcohol today.” Ding-ge picked up the wine glass to illustrate his point. “Two drinks of this size, okay? You’ll be fined if you drink more than that—Xiao Lu, your hand is still injured, don’t drink anything.”
Shiliu picked up the bottle of wine, wanting to pour some for Jian Rong too. Jian Rong was about to refuse when someone blocked the opening of his glass for him. Because there were still bandages wrapped around the hand, it only hovered above the glass and didn’t actually touch it.
Lu Boyuan said, “He can’t drink that.”
Shiliu was taken aback. “No way. He can drink, he used to always order alcohol back when we ate midnight snacks together.”
Once bitten, twice shy. Jian Rong recalled the mess he had made of himself the last time he drank in front of Lu Boyuan, and he said, “I still need to practice once I get back to the base, so no thanks.”
Right as Shiliu set down the wine, Lu Boyuan feigned nonchalance as he asked, “Did you eat midnight snacks together often?”
“We ate together a lot when I used to live in Shanghai.” Shiliu said, “After I moved back to my hometown to stream, it wasn’t very easy to do so anymore.”
Most likely because Jian Rong didn’t talk a lot about himself, the other members were quite interested in this topic of conversation.
Xiao Bai was in the middle of redownloading those deleted apps. “You’ve known him for a long time then?”
“I met him at an internet cafe half a year after he first started streaming. At the time, he was only… fifteen? Or even younger?” Shiliu sighed. “I can probably say that I watched him grow up.”
Jian Rong felt like Shiliu’s words made him seem like a child. With a wooden expression, he said, “It was only a few years, so it doesn’t count.”
Shiliu laughed. “Sure, so be it. I still remember, when I saw him in the internet cafe, he was gaming while also typing and flaming someone at the same time. I was staring in awe.”
Yuan Qian: “Did he already have this hair color when you first met him?”
“No, it was black. You know, his black hair made him look especially young, which was why all the people in the stream kept thinking he was a primary school student at the beginning…”
Xiao Bai snickered. “A few days ago, a water friend also said I looked as youthful as a primary school student.”
Pine: “They were saying your mechanics were like a primary school student’s, there was no ‘youthful’ part. Don’t beautify your own memory.”
Men became a lot more talkative after drinking alcohol, and they started discussing topic after topic around the table.
After eating and drinking his fill, Jian Rong ducked his head and pulled out his phone to check his unread messages. There were too many, with over forty unread messages from WeChat alone. They were all from those streamers that he had added as friends but had never really talked to, congratulating him on getting into the finals.
Lu Boyuan was listening to Shiliu talk about some events that took place back when he and Jian Rong first began duo queueing and streaming together. From the corner of his eye, he noticed that Jian Rong’s WeChat was filled with texts from profile pictures that contained girls all the way down.
Jian Rong clicked on the chat at the very top. He was contemplating whether to reply or not when someone’s fingertips suddenly scraped lightly against the back of his neck.
Jian Rong’s nape was an extremely sensitive area, and he instantly locked his phone and sat up straight.
The others were still chatting. The influence of the alcohol somewhat magnified all of their voices, and they were currently asking Yuan Qian when he was going to marry Youyou, causing the entire room to be filled with rowdy cheers.
Their chairs were placed a bit close to each other. Very naturally, Lu Boyuan propped his elbow up on the back of Jian Rong’s chair and gently twisted Jian Rong’s hair between his fingers where the others couldn’t see. Occasionally, his fingers would also brush against the skin near the tips of Jian Rong’s hair.
Lu Boyuan was extremely fond of stroking Jian Rong’s hair, as it was very soft. Jian Rong’s hair was short, so every time he showered he would just go ahead and wash his hair too. As a result, even though he was clearly a relatively careless little video game nerd, his hair still smelled fragrant every single day.
When Xiao Bai turned in their direction to say something, Lu Boyuan felt Jian Rong give an obvious jolt.
Lu Boyuan was amused. He didn’t want Jian Rong to be too nervous, so he let go of that lock of hair.
He was about to withdraw his hand when Jian Rong suddenly leaned backwards, rubbing his hair against Lu Boyuan’s index finger.
Taking advantage of his tipsiness, Xiao Bai once again asked the question that he had been curious about during the past few days. “Ge, who exactly is the partner you mentioned before?”
Lu Boyuan’s fingers stretched into Jian Rong’s hair, and he chuckled. “Take a guess.”
Though Ding-ge said to only drink two cups, in the end some people still drank too much. Xiao Bai went back to the base while hanging off of Pine, whereas Yuan Qian directly called a car to send his girlfriend back home before returning to the base.
The only clear-headed people were the two who hadn’t touched any alcohol.
Especially Jian Rong.
As he was showering in his room, he couldn’t resist the urge to lower his head and knead the back of his neck. While rubbing that area, he thought—what in the world was the reward that Lu Boyuan had mentioned?
It was already eleven… had he forgotten?
If Jian Rong went to remind him, would that make him seem too fussy and demanding?
After exiting the bathroom, Jian Rong draped the towel over his head and opened his chat with Lu Boyuan on his phone. Right as he was hesitantly typing out a few words, a voice call suddenly came in.
Jian Rong swiftly answered the call. “…what’s up?”
The sound of water came from Lu Boyuan’s end. “What are you doing right now?”
“Just finished taking a shower.”
“I’m out of shampoo.” There was a bit of an echo to Lu Boyuan’s voice. “Lend me some of yours?”
Jian Rong set out, carrying his personal bottle of shampoo.
Lu Boyuan’s room wasn’t locked. The moment he walked in, the bathroom door opened, and Lu Boyuan came out holding a hair dryer.
The fragrant scent of shower gel clung to him, and his hair was clean and straight. It was evident that he had just finished blow-drying his hair.
Jian Rong looked at the hair dryer in his hand. “Weren’t you… out of shampoo?”
Lu Boyuan reached out and closed the door before he leaned over and quickly gave him a kiss. “I was afraid that you would run into someone on the way here and wouldn’t be able to explain it, so I told you to bring it as an excuse.”
Although their rooms were only a scant distance apart, Xiao Bai liked to “sleepwalk” after he had too much to drink. He had already paced back and forth seven or eight times along the corridor earlier, while also knocking on each of their doors.
Lu Boyuan said, “Come here. I’ll help you dry your hair.”
Jian Rong subconsciously said, “Your hand…”
“I can do it with my left hand.” Lu Boyuan called again, “Come here.”
Jian Rong sat on the bed with his back to Lu Boyuan. Clearly, Lu Boyuan wasn’t very used to blow-drying someone else’s hair, and his movements were clumsy. Jian Rong’s hair turned into a complete mess after he was done.
Every time Lu Boyuan’s fingers sunk into his hair, a tingle would run down Jian Rong’s back.
As a result, even after the hair dryer was turned off, Jian Rong’s breathing was still quite heavy.
At that moment, the sound of a push notification abruptly came from under a pillow. When Lu Boyuan set down the hair dryer and lifted up the pillow, Jian Rong saw the phone placed underneath it.
The push notification had already automatically disappeared. The phone screen was frozen on the video that its owner hadn’t exited out of before going to shower.
Sensing that the image was a bit familiar, Jian Rong leaned forward a little. After he fully discerned what was on the screen, he looked back in astonishment and asked, “This video… where did you find it?”
It was a recording of one of Jian Rong’s streams. The ID of the Cassiopeia on the screen was “China Server’s Number One Dad.” It was Jian Rong’s earliest ID, but it had eventually ended up censored by Riot.
At the very least, this video was three years old. Meanwhile, his earliest stream replay saved on the streaming platform was a video from last February.
“Your Tieba.” Lu Boyuan locked his phone. “I put up a post in the forum, and a fan sent me the videos that they had collected.”
Since the start of Jian Rong’s fourth month of streaming, that hardcore fan had saved four or five of Jian Rong’s stream recordings every month.
Jian Rong was still confused. “Why are you watching these videos?”
Lu Boyuan had searched up Jian Rong’s videos before. However, at the time, it was for the sake of observing Jian Rong’s technique, so the videos from the past year were more than enough.
Now, trying to find videos from even earlier… it was because he wanted to see how Jian Rong had grown up by himself.
At the beginning, he was reticent and silent. When he saw a comment appear in the barrage, his eyes would light up, but after discovering that it was just an advertisement, he would lower his eyes again and sulk.
Back when he had black hair, he was indeed very well-behaved. Upon encountering girls who greeted him, he would awkwardly respond with an “en” or “thank you.” He ate every meal in front of the computer: steamed buns, instant noodles, eggs. It didn’t matter how disgraceful of a meal it was.
Later, once he signed a contract with the platform, he still wasn’t very popular, but at least he had a base salary. Finally, he became a bit more lively—which was mainly displayed when he flamed and was flamed by LoL trolls.
After his popularity began to slightly pick up, Jian Rong’s stream started to frequently be banned for five minute intervals due to reports from his own water friends. When the ban was up, he would continue to trade insults with them, and then he would end up being banned again. Currently, of the videos that Lu Boyuan had watched so far, the one with the highest record showed Jian Rong once being banned seventeen times in a single day.
Lu Boyuan rubbed his face. “I wanted to see what my boyfriend was like in the past.”
“No way.” Jian Rong remembered the expletives that he used to say in his streams, and he twisted around as he blurted out, “What’s there to see? It’s not like I was a particularly good person before.”
Lu Boyuan laughed. “Not good in what way? You were quite cute.”
“I’m a guy, what’s cute about me…”
“Who knows.” Lu Boyuan said mildly, “It’s probably because you’re the one I like, which is why I think that you’re cute.”
To someone who personally believed that he was the most badass cool guy in the world, being praised as cute truly wasn’t something worth getting very excited over.
Not even if it was coming from his boyfriend.
Jian Rong went silent for a few seconds, expressionless, before he said, “But I like you, and I don’t think that you’re cute.”
Jian Rong licked his lips. “Anyway, stop watching those videos, I really wasn’t up to any good back then. I constantly argued with my teammates, and the things I said were unpleasant too. Also, I participated in those dumbass PKs…”
Before Jian Rong could finish his sentence, Lu Boyuan tugged him onto the bed and pushed him down to kiss him.
After Lu Boyuan was done with the kiss, he turned his face to the side and huffed out a laugh. Then, he leaned down to kiss him again. He asked, “Do you not argue with your teammates anymore? Xiao Bai would be furious if he heard that.”
Jian Rong stared at Lu Boyuan’s lips and said hoarsely, “…that’s what he deserves.”
Both of their mouths tasted like the peppermint flavor from their toothpastes. Jian Rong was also more experienced now, and he hooked one arm around Lu Boyuan’s neck while he clutched at Lu Boyuan’s sheets with his other hand. He tilted his chin slightly upwards as he responded.
The bed was filled with Lu Boyuan’s scent, and Jian Rong inevitably recalled what they did here last time. He reacted even faster than he had any time before.
When Lu Boyuan reached out and touched his waist, Jian Rong trembled.
As he was closing his eyes, he suddenly thought of something. With a quiver, Jian Rong instantly grabbed onto Lu Boyuan’s shirt. “Hang on…”
He stared at the bandages on Lu Boyuan’s hand. His face bright red, he said nervously, “Don’t do it, you still can’t move your hand yet.”
“It won’t affect it.”
“It will!!” No matter what, Jian Rong wasn’t willing to back off, and he started to prop himself up.
Lu Boyuan pressed him back down.
He said, “It’s not like I only have hands.”
Jian Rong’s pajama pants were very loose. With one tug, they fell with no force needed.
Jian Rong didn’t understand, all the way up until Lu Boyuan ducked his head and shifted downwards…
The moment he made contact, the area around Jian Rong’s tailbone immediately tingled. His entire body arched up as he unconsciously grabbed hold of Lu Boyuan’s hair. “Don’t… don’t do that…”
The sound of a door opening came from outside the room—Xiao Bai was out once again to “sleepwalk.”
Upon hearing Xiao Bai knock on his own door and ask foolishly if he wanted to go down and eat breakfast together, goosebumps erupted all over Jian Rong’s body.
Lu Boyuan didn’t stop.
Jian Rong wanted to let out his voice, but at the same time, he didn’t dare to. He felt like he was about to fall apart.
A few seconds later, he snatched up a random pillow next to him and bit down onto it.
Wei: I’m back!!! And done with finals!!! What a thrilling chapter to return to ahhhh ::blushing::